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    Saturday, November 26, 2022

    Gas prices in Conn. have dropped to the lowest level in 18 months.

    A motorist fills up the tank on a sedan. Connecticut is now seeing a decline in gas prices that is bringing the average per gallon cost down to its lowest level in 18 months. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

    Once a state with some of the most pricey gasoline in the country, Connecticut is now seeing a decline in gas prices that is bringing the average per gallon cost down to its lowest level in 18 months.

    For years, Connecticut was routinely in the top 10 states in terms of average gasoline prices. But now a variety of factors is contributing to a decline of prices at the pump that currently has the state ranked 43rd in terms of gas prices, according to Alec Slatky, director of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Northeast.

    The average price in Connecticut on Wednesday is $3.31 for a gallon of regular gas, AAA reported.

    "It has largely been fears of a global recession that are driving down the price," Slatky said. "We've also seen an easing in demand; last week oil prices were below $80 a barrel. It's certainly good news for drivers because I think people were getting getting inured to high prices."

    Gas prices in Connecticut peaked on average across the state at $4.98 per gallon of regular gasoline in late June, according to GasBuddy, the online fuel price tracking website. And even with the slow and steady decline in prices at service stations around the state since then, the average price of gas is still about 44 cents per gallon higher than it was 18 months ago.

    Slatky said the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 resulted in a decrease in demand, as public health restrictions either led to reduced commuting or eliminated it entirely as many people started working from home. By Sept. 28, 2020, the average price of gasoline in Connecticut was $2.05 per gallon, $1.17 lower than it is now.

    "There was such a massive drop in demand and an overabundance of supply that they (oil companies) weren't able to store everything they were producing," he said. "So they just had to unload it."

    While gas prices are declining in Connecticut, there is a great deal of price volatility elsewhere in the United State, according to Patrick De Haan, an oil and refined products analyst with GasBuddy.

    "Refinery snags in some areas of the country are contributing to wild fluctuations," DeHaan said via social media. "Areas of the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes and Plains have seen significant refinery issues leading to supply challenges, causing prices to spike even as oil prices have dropped. However, the Northeast and Gulf Coast continue to see normal activity at refineries and prices there have dropped."

    Kevin Curry, a partner in the Meriden-based wholesale fuel distributor Danby's and an owner of a small chain of gas stations, said energy market speculators also are a factor in the price volatility that is being seen around the country.

    "The prices are all over the place," Curry said. "I think the speculation of what's going in Russia has an impact as well."

    Connecticut consumers are also benefiting from a suspension of Connecticut's 25 cent per gallon gasoline excise tax, which began April 1 and is scheduled to run through Nov. 30. It's unclear whether that suspension will continue beyond Nov. 30, however.

    David Bednarz, a spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, said extending the suspension of the gas tax would require an act of the legislature.

    "In the coming weeks, Governor Lamont plans to have discussions with legislative leaders on this topic," Bednarz said Wednesday.

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